So you want to be a Rock Star?

Rock-Star

You know the phrase “he’s a Rock Star” or “she’s a Rock Star”? In business, this does not mean they are going to die at age 27 (Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse to name some of the more unfortunate, well-known ones. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/27_Club)

I strive to be one and I’m sure you would too. But what’s a product marketing Rock Star look like?  Here’s how to recognize a PM Rockstar…

  • They focus on product value instead of product features. Yes, people care about product features, but on the “front line” (or maybe center stage?), your target audience wants to know what the value of what your selling is… at least someone in the early stages of looking for a particular solution is. If you can articulate the value of your product more succinctly – in terms that your target audience understands better than your competitors’ – then you may be a Rock Star.
  • Speaking of target audience, they know their prospects (before they become customers). You probably read this everywhere – “know your customers” – but it’s hardly ever discussed how to do it. There are specific activities you can do to get into your prospect’s head. Interview customers for case studies to learn why they chose your product, listen in on a phone call with a front-line sales rep, work the booth at a trade show. Listen to the questions they ask, how they ask them, the language and terms they use. You might be a Rock Star if you can internalize your prospects and “speak their language” in everything your write that is customer facing. (website copy, data sheets, presentations, etc.)
  • They follow the competition. We live in a competitive world and knowing what your prospect’s alternatives are makes your messaging smarter, different and compelling. Like it or not, you will be compared to these alternatives from every angle. Check out competitive websites. Visit their booth at trade shows (many times the people at the booth are junior and won’t recognize you as a competitor, so don’t worry about being “caught”). Get on their webinars (if you’re not blocked). Download their collateral. Troll some forums to hear the rants and raves about them (might as well hear the ones about your product as well). If you keep your friends close and your competitors closer, you might be a Rock Star.
  • They show up to work. I don’t mean you get your butt in your seat every day (although that’s a good start). I mean ask yourself “what value have I provided my company today?” It’s about being accountable for your own contributions and trying to maximize the short amount of actual time you have to get work done. If you can be a role model for staying in the game and keeping your personal contribution level up, you may be a Rock Star.
  • They are fast perfectionists (even if they aren’t OCD) in what they deliver. Don’t settle for good enough… but know when you’re “done”. Rock Stars know when they’ve hit the point of diminishing returns on an effort and that it’s time to “ship”. If you can intuit the point that you’ve maximized the value of your time, you may be a Rock Star.
  • They formalize processes to create consistent, repeatable output. Setup recurring events in your calendar. Document processes. Utilize tools that help plan and track. Communicate consistently. You might be a Rock Star if people in your organization have come to know when/how/what you will be delivering.

Not bad for a partial list right? Oh yeah, one more. Live past the age of 27.

Zen and the Art of Product Marketing – Day zero

zenofPMWelcome to 2014. It’s a fresh start to a new year and if you consider yourself, like me, a “product marketer” (we’ll explore what that means!) you may have decided to think about ways that you can do what you do better… New Years Resolutions for your career! For my personal resolutions, I gave myself a 90 challenge of no alcohol (seriously, I did. It’s hard. YOU try it!). In that 90 days I’m also trying to drop 15lbs. And I’m doing a 30 day “plank” challenge. (almost as hard as not drinking!). For my career resolutions I want to start this blog, network with other product marketers (PMs) in my area, get better at managing my tasks and projects, be more proactive with certain aspects of being a PM, find some interesting bloggers to follow and keep up with and find a PM networking group to get involved with.  Of all of these, writing this blog will  be the hardest, but I’ll give it a go and see where it takes us!

The goal of this blog is to share my experiences and thoughts on product marketing, working for a startup, point you toward resources and try to build a community of other product marketing folks who enjoy the zen and art of product marketing.